Dunkirk School’s EXCEL project set to continue with Phase IV

The EXCEL Capital Project for the Dunkirk City School District will move forward with its fourth and final phase soon.

By an unofficial vote count of 272 to 39, district residents on Tuesday approved the project after they voted in the high school’s auxiliary gymnasium during a public referendum.

A total of 250 people voted at the polling location while 61 voted by absentee ballot.

“The turnout was about what we expected,” Superintendent Gary Cerne said after finding out the results. “The last time we had a referendum, it was similar in numbers. I’m very thrilled, very thankful that people supported it. This is the last phase of construction for many, many years to come.”

Phase IV is a continuing phase intended to finish up exterior site work at the high school, as well as some interior renovations inside the main building.

Exterior work will cost roughly $2 million while interior work will be about $684,000. Design and construction contingencies will bring the total cost to $3.8 million. A total of $190,000 will be contributed from the district’s existing 2008 capital reserve fund.

The local share of taxes is not expected to be affected by this project.

The major components of the project include a lighted access road through Veterans Field behind the school, which will connect Van Miller Way to Marauder Drive; renovations and upgrades to the soccer and softball fields in Veterans Field (drainage, sodded fields, new dugouts, bleachers, sidewalks, etc.), just south of the high school; a new, 23-station computer lab and conference room in the place of the guidance office; and the relocation of the guidance office more toward the front of the school, near the high school office.

Additional components of the project will include the reconstruction of Van Miller Way; the continuation of the Veterans Field lease with the city for 15 years; new scoreboards at the softball and baseball fields; the leveling off of the baseball field, including the installation of a retention wall; and the creation of a series of half-circular steps leading up to the victory bell at Karl Hoeppner Field.

Inside the school, the project will also entail facelifts for the boys’ and girls’ team shower rooms in the basement, including private changing rooms; the expansion of the instrumental music storage room; the replacement of the floor in the choral music room; and the replacement of the school’s original sewage pump.

Phase IV is expected to begin in 2015 and will take about two construction seasons to complete, according to Cerne. In the meantime, the school will still be busy with the design phase of the project.

“By the time we get through the State (Education Department) process, we’ll be looking at putting it out to bid probably late summer, early fall (of next year), so we’ll miss a majority of next year’s summer construction season,” Cerne added.

The school will also be busy with completing Phase III of the project next summer, which will include window work at the middle school and interior corridor work at School Seven, as well as an overhaul of the library media center there.

“I think (Phase IV) is a good project,” Cerne said at a past board of education meeting. “It basically completes our five-year plan and the biggest thing, to me, is that access road. For decades and decades, we’ve had confusion on Van Miller Way during baseball and softball and tennis matches, with people trying to exit the back parking lot. That’ll take that away. To me, it’s a huge safety factor and it’ll allow the police and emergency personnel to drive all the way around the building. That’s the biggest piece of it.”

The voting results will officially be canvassed by the board of education at their regular meeting today at 6:30 p.m. in the large group instruction room of the administrative building.

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